To solve some of the financial problems happening in the National Basketball Association, the NBA looks to go to contraction.
"It's a sensitive subject for me because I've spent 27 years in this job working very hard not only to maintain all of our teams, but along the way add a few," Stern said during his preseason conference call.
"But I think that's a subject that will be on the table with the players as we look to see what's the optimum way to present our game, and are there cities and teams that cannot make it in the current economic environment. I'm not spending a lot of time on it."
"The league would continue to be open to contraction," CBSsports.com wrote. CBS also wrote that Stern wants player costs reduced by $700-800 million.
Many small-market teams have been struggling and have had financial problems. Many people say the Memphis Grizzlies are a choice for contraction. Stern rejected.
"No, it shouldn't be. It's a good word to use, especially in collective bargaining."
The players do not like the idea of contraction, saying many would lose jobs in that case.
"That would be more for them in their decision-making process than ours," union president Derek Fisher, point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers said. "We have a responsibility to protect as many jobs as we possibly can, so that would be more for the commissioner and the league and the owners to make a decision on contraction and numbers of teams and those things."
Stern is very interested in small-market teams. Stern really wants the small-market teams to get more competitive, rather than just taking them away.
"I would say that we're committed to small-market teams," Stern said. "We are going to have a new CBA eventually and we're going to have a more robust revenue sharing."
The labor deal is set to expire on June 30. The labor deal is between the league and the players. Stern says he wants league salary costs slashed off by one-third. With all of this, the league could go into a lockout for the 2011-12 season, executive director Billy Hunter said.
"I don't believe that Billy wrote that, because he wouldn't threaten me with a lockout," Stern said. "And all I can say is that's what negotiations are for and we're looking forward to our next negotiating session."
Fisher says the union and the NBA are trying to work an agreement and try to keep these CBA conversations away from the media and the press.
"I heard about his comments and the other comments that were made regarding certain elements of the collective bargaining agreement, and some comments won't pull a comment in return," Fisher said. "Some things aren't comment-worthy."
Fisher said contraction is a fair option. Along with that, he says contracting would bring a dramatic change to league.
"Details of where things stand and what exactly respective sides were looking for, we were going to keep in the room and behind closed doors," Fisher said. "We don't plan to negotiate through media, through public forums. We'll continue to negotiate behind closed doors and continue to focus on resolution. There's really no need at any point to just throw out something that is not based in [the question], 'Is this something that is going to help us get a deal done?' "
Chris Kaman and Rajon Rondo, along with many other NBA players, are trying to save money for their teams. Fisher told Kaman and Rondo that they should prepare for a potential lockout.
"Planning for the worst is kind of a part of our DNA," Fisher said. "At the same time, when there are potentially rare, abnormal circumstances, I think we increase the number of messages and the way we get those messages out.
"We're trying with every avenue we have to make sure players understand, actually lockout or not, to take your financial future seriously. Regardless of what next year looks like, next year isn't guaranteed for any of us. The decisions you are making now should always be based in that fact. Next year is in some ways irrelevant if you do the right things you need to do right now."
Stern says that the league could go towards the hard salary cap, however contraction could save a bunch of money for many teams and they could be able to re-sign their players. It would give several teams a financial edge, too.
Stern brought up the idea of a "franchise player." Basically, it's like what the National Football League does with the franchise tagging. Teams could really use this to help them financially and help keep themselves and not contract. After seeing players leave their teams like LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Cleveland and Toronto could be in a hole and may be considered for contraction. If the NBA had franchise tagging, Bosh and James could have stayed and kept Cleveland and Toronto well in the financial state.
Many economic changes are happening to NBA, as the league could lose almost as much as $350 million this year!
"I would say the league is viable as long as you have owners who want to continue funding losses. But it's not on the long term a sustainable business model that we're happy to be supporting," Stern said. "It needs to be reset."
Stern hopes that the teams in the California-area could be fixed. The Golden State Warriors hoped to be sold by next week, and it's very possible that the team could re-locate. Another team that could re-locate are the Sacramento Kings. Stern says that the idea of Sacramento having a new arena has faded completely!
"We know we're going to get an agreement done, and we think that the enthusiasm of the season and the prospective growth that it will ultimately represent will enable us to sit down with the players and negotiate in good faith, and we both seem intent on doing all that we can to reach a deal," he said.
I hope things really get fixed with the NBA.